The murder of PR agencies by Google has been vastly exaggerated (or newswires are dead!)

The corporate PR world can be dull - no really. Come ride with me as we take a weekly sideways glance at the world of PR in the lofty world of big business, from someone who has been there, done that, and was mostly fired.

Forgive me dear Drum readers for I am off on a tangent today, still public relations related, probably a little more ranty than normal, but a tangent nonetheless.

A short while ago the search behemoth that is Google made a slight tweak to its linking guidelines around press releases that set the dogs of internet war off and running and causing many in the SEO and social sectors to boldly question whether Google is trying to kill public relations agencies .

Naturally, as you would expect from the kind of forward thinking 23rd century PR guy that I am, I have alerts set up for this kind of nonsense, ready to leap to the defence of the long suffering sector in which I work.

Seemingly, not a week goes by without a new sector being declared “dead” by a media outlet or linkbait seeking mouthpiece (what? Me you say? How dare you!). Indeed, it seems like only yesterday that SEOs themselves got formal written notice of their last rites by the Guardian of all places, so naturally, this week it is PRs.

Best take a look at what Google says, and I paraphrase, in the style of Samuel L. Jackson (because that is how I suspect Matt Cutts of Google really speaks behind closed doors):

1. “If you PR mofos use links in press releases you need to nofollow them bitches”.

They continued:

2. “If I catch any of you sons of bitches keyword stuffing your press releases then I am going to strike down upon thee with great vengeance and furious anger”.

Yep, from these two lines came the death of PR.

What a load of shitbull. In my head, The G-Man is spot on and this is just an extension of its master plan to rid the SERPs of spammy content, people who are trying to game the system and lazy creative content.

If we look at the two commandments in a bit more detail you can try and understand where my head is at and where my ideas have come from.

Put nofollow in press releases…

Let’s be sensible, this is not in the press releases that you send to journalists via private communication. This is for the releases that get placed on news wires. These kinds of press releases are often very very different to the releases that end up in journalists' inboxes.

SEOs have spammed the crap out of releases on wires such as PRWeb and PR NewsWire, killing the sector, and I predict the death of certain wires (see what I did there) as a result. Wires are now just packed with over-optimised content with links galore.

In the seven years that our agency has been going I have only ever seen one credible story come from a story being placed on the above two named wires. The rest is syndicated content scattered across its network of sites.

Indeed, the only two wires we really rate and do still use are RealWire and those on DarylWillcox Publishing. They get genuine write ups from actual media rather than syndicating the content across what appears to be 140 bot sites.

So, putting nofollow in releases placed on wires is a great idea by Google and has no effect on PR agencies that typically write great content and don’t then rely on wires for the majority of coverage.

Just to be clear, we, like every other agency have used all the wires mentioned above.

The second commandment: Though shall not over optimise releases with keyword stuffing.

Again, great shout G-Man. Pretty much every online or digital agency will have been in the same boat as us, when a client sends a release back that is suddenly packed with its business keywords.

This is where good agencies stand tall and push back, explaining that journalists will see this a mile off and tell you exactly where to put your release.

Again, good agencies producing great content don’t need to worry about this part of the update. Only the companies producing shit content to try and game the SERPs need worry.

Moving on, and this is where it all gets a bit hippy and comes across that I wear a cardigan and drink real-ale (I don’t), I am a firm believer that if you build and promote a brand organically and more to the point, with great marketing, Google will reward you for this with consistently improving rankings.

Yes that is a bit naïve given no one really knows what is going on with Google's algorithm, but I am not alone in saying that Google is looking for brand indicators and as such, with a few famous exceptions, the big brands don’t try and game the SERPs (see, both naïve and hippy, I did say there are a few exceptions!).

In short, your honour, public relations is not dead; shit content and lazy PRs, SEOs and social media types are just being targeted for trying to cheat the system.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.